Councillors have had a first look at plans to explain the move to wheelie bins to residents.
By 1st October, every household will have 2 wheelie bins (one for rubbish, one for paper) plus a box for other recycling, and a food waste caddy. And either a wheelie or bag for garden waste if you pay to be in the scheme. Batteries and textiles will also be collected.
At the Sustainable Communities Scrutiny Panel on 21 June, it was confirmed by contractor Veolia that the wheelie bins will be taken one week with recycling boxes the next. Food waste will be collected weekly as will batteries and textiles.
Around 75% of households will also see a change in collection day.
We're 'Wheelie' concerned
The scheme has been controversial, with concerns about the look and storage of the new wheelie bins, as well as the move to fortnightly collections. In addition, contractor Veolia hasn't impressed since it took over street cleaning, litter bin emptying, and waste and recycling collections. During the recent election, Merton Liberal Democrats campaigned on a platform of allowing people to opt out from having wheelie bins if they would be difficult to use at their property.
Officials quizzed on communication plans
At the Sustainable Communities Scrutiny Panel, councillors - including Liberal Democrat councillor Anthony Fairclough - were able to ask questions about the roll out of the scheme later this year. Cllr Fairclough highlighted the lack of direct communications with those people who currently have help with taking out the bins, known as the "assisted collection" scheme. Given the size and weight of the bins, it's expected that more people will move onto this scheme, and yet the Council's plan is only to reach out to those eligible through "community groups" and a small section with a weblink on the more general leaflets. Cllr Fairclough's proposal that both the Council and the Scrutiny Panel keep a very close look at the take-up of this scheme was backed.
It was also highlighted that although the new bins will begin to be delivered from the end of July, no one will be able to use them until 1 October. Cllr Fairclough and other councillors called on officials to monitor this too, as problems were bound to occur.
Cllr Fairclough was also able to get clarification from the councillor in charge of "street cleanliness" that those households that don't have a "front garden with space" to store the bins, will not have to change to wheelies, but will be treated like flats and have a bag collection. From 9 July, the Council's call centre will apparently be able to discuss and make arrangements with residents about such things.
After the meeting, Cllr Fairclough said:
"We were told by one official that you could never 'over-communicate' about a project as big as this. And yet there seem to be a number of gaps in the information they're giving to groups of people who need special help taking out their bins. There's also currently no real information on what to do if your house has no space to store all the bins that the Council wants to give you. We'll keep asking the difficult questions, and holding the Council and Veolia to account".
You can apply for help putting out your recycling or rubbish here.